BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) – Lebanon’s political crisis worsened Friday with government ministers fearing for their lives after the killing of one of their own, businesses on strike and Hezbollah renewing threats of protests.

Beirut was tense after several hundred supporters of the pro-Syrian Hezbollah briefly took to the streets on Thursday night, burning tires and blocking the road to the airport until the Islamic militant group’s leader ordered them home.

Tuesday’s assassination of Interior Minister Pierre Gemayel, an anti-Syrian Christian leader, has added to Lebanon’s political uncertainty. It has also reignited anger at Syria, which dominated Lebanon for nearly three decades but was forced to withdraw its troops last year over accusations it was behind Hariri’s killing.

The U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora moved ahead with an issue that was likely to anger Hezbollah. The Cabinet was due to meet today to give its final approval to a U.N.-created international court to try suspects in the February 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In a gesture toward the government and the anti-Syrian majority in parliament – which regard the U.N. court as a priority – Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah and parliament speaker Amal leader Nabih Berri said they supported the creation of the tribunal. But they accused their opponents of using the issue to block their demands for enough Cabinet seats to be able to veto decisions.

An estimated 800,000 government supporters – a fifth of the population – turned out for Gemayel’s funeral on Thursday, turning it into a political rally against Syria as Lebanon’s ethnic groups faced their sharpest divisions since the 1975-90 civil war.

“Even at the height of the civil war, Lebanon has never witnessed this level of polarization among its sects, this kind of political mobilization and the crisis at such a dead end,” wrote Sateh Noureddine, managing editor of the daily As-Safir.

Fearing a meltdown, business leaders called a two-day strike starting Friday to urge the rival leaders to “take national decisions … engage in dialogue and stop making threats of street protests.”

Factories, banks and financial institutions closed Friday. Though many small shops remained open, many schools shut down and traffic was thinner than normal on Beirut’s usually bustling streets.

Underlining the atmosphere of fear following Gemayel’s assassination, some Cabinet ministers are taking shelter in the government headquarters in downtown Beirut, although Cabinet Minister Ahmed Fatfat, speaking on Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. television, would not say how many ministers.

Efforts to break the deadlock – and even the outpouring of grief over the slaying of the young Christian politician – have failed to soften the entrenched positions.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia have mediated in recent days, apparently to no avail.

Hezbollah ignored a call by Prime Minister Fuad Saniora on Thursday night for it to resume dialogue and for six pro-Hezbollah members who quit his Cabinet to return to their posts. The six quit in protest just before the Cabinet gave its initial approval of the international tribunal, which is opposed by Hezbollah.

Pro-government groups have warned that more government ministers may be targeted for assassination, which could deny the Cabinet the legal two-thirds quorum of 16 needed to approve the court. The Cabinet now has 17 members following the Shiites’ withdrawal and Gemayel’s death.

Nabil Bou Monsef, a political analyst speaking on LBC TV Friday, said the latest events served as “a great red alert” to the country. “Tensions are flashing red.”

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